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Health concern forces jobs minister to quit politics

PRINCE GEORGE (NEWS1130) – BC Jobs Minister Pat Bell says he’s leaving politics for medical reasons, but will stay on in his current role until the coming May election.

Bell says he will not be seeking another term as MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, in northern BC, after medical tests picked up a rare type of aneurysm.

In a release, he says a cardiac specialist is monitoring the size of his problem, which may require ongoing monitoring or surgery if it grows.

He says the condition has caused him to rethink his political future, especially during a critical time as the BC Liberals seek re-election.

Kim Emerson, a political analyst for OMNI TV, calls Bell a calm influence within the governing Liberals.

“Bell has been one of the premier’s star performers of late, particularly when selling the jobs plan and the jobs numbers,” he says.

“He’s done extremely well in the few days we’ve had Question Period again. He’s done extremely well in battling questions from the Opposition, so it really is a surprise to see this.”

Bell, who has spent 12 years in provincial politics, says he informed Premier Christy Clark of his decision and she has asked him to continue his existing responsibilities through to the election.

Bell’s announcement comes just ahead of the provincial budget on Tuesday.